Western Digital Black² Dual Drive
When SSD (Solid State Drives) hit the market a few years ago, they really did change the way PC users stored their information and loaded their operating systems. Western Digital have always been a market leaders when it comes to storage and the new Western Digital Black² Dual Drive is set to revolutionise the market again by being the world’s first hybrid drive.
Comprising of a 120GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, the Black² Dual Drive has laptop users, gaming PC’s and brand name all in one systems in mind giving the using total control of where your data is stored. Goodbye Cloud!
The Black² allows you to either clone your current operating system and stored files or start with a completely new install. For the purpose of our review, we did the clone process.
Housed in a tiny 2.5in case, the Black² was built for lovers of laptops who were craving for a performance driven drive, but also the practicality of plenty of storage. What we asked for, WD has delivered!
There are a few steps to the install process – the data transfer and then the actual install into your machine, be it a laptop or a PC.
However, before you look at installing a WB Black² into a laptop, you must make sure that your current laptop has a 9.5mm hard drive slot. Sadly, Ultrabook users won’t be able to take advantage of the drive due to the small HDD casing that comes standard in your machine.
We had an old 2009 Acer laptop laying around that we thought would be perfect to test out the Black² with.
The WD Black² Dual Drive comes in a nicely presented flip top box.
Inside you will find the following:
Using the handy web key, also known as the ‘start key’, you stick this into a USB port. This USB is preloaded to take you directly to the WB install website where you need to download a few files to assist with prepping the data transfer.
After these files have installed, you plug in the drive to the supplied SATA adapter and then plug both USB cords into your laptop or your PC. Your PC should then automatically see the drive. WD supply you with a program called Acronis True Image which is the recommended program to use for the cloning process, however if you are familiar and confident with another program you may wish to use this instead.
The process to start the data transfer up can seem a little tricky, however if you are familiar with the disk management feature on Windows this should be a walk in the park! Once in disk management, you initialize the drive and then start up Acronis to get the transfer in motion.
Acronis was relatively easy to use. As we were only cloning our disk, we clicked on the ‘clone disk’ option. Acronis takes about 30 seconds maximum to run its process. After following the prompts, your drive should be clones and ready to install. Please note that whilst we have skipped over every single step with respect to the install and the cloning of the drive, there are plenty of handy ’how to’ install videos available online if you are a bit of a novice at installing a new hard drive. Check out the Western Digital how to installation guide here.
How did it perform?
After a few fiddly moments of unscrewing the back of the laptop and fitting the drive into the mount, we were ready to take the Black² for a spin.
Original hard drive being removed *stock images
WD Black² Dual Drive being installed *stock images
When we turned the machine on for the first time after the install, we noticed quite a bit of a difference in the start-up speed. Whilst it wasn’t as fast as what you would expect from a standalone SSD, the fact that there was a SSD AND a HDD in a 6 year old laptop was pretty impressive. Considering it would take around 2 minutes for the laptop to be up and running and ready to go with the factory Acer drive, to loading in 20 seconds, there was definitely an improvement! The Black² can certainly bring life to an older machine which may have been destined for the tip!
When transferring data from the HDD and the SSD, again, we did notice that the speed wasn’t as fast as you would expect from a stand-alone unit, however, we stand by our previous statement – the fact that there was a SDD AND a HDD in a 6 year old laptop more than makes up for this.
We would recommend that you use the SSD for any programs you will use on a regular basis (such as your operating system or games) and want the best performance from. However, we also suggest that larger sized programs like video or image editing software (we have Abode Creative Suite on the old Acer hard drive) are kept on the 1TB portion to keep the SSD running at its peak. You are in total control with regards to where your data is stored. By optimising the use of the 1TB drive, you save on ‘wear and tear’ and drop in performance of the SSD.
Currently, the Black² Dual Drive is on the market for Windows compatible machines only. Sorry Mac users, but the Black² drive isn’t for you. If you are however looking for an external drive as a Mac user, check out our WD My Passport Pro review for a possible solution.
- Innovative concept
- A whopping 5 year limited warranty
- Good value for money when you compare the costs of a standalone SSD and HHD of the same storage size
- Small drop in performance on the SSD side of things compared to a standalone unit
- Not compatible with Macs
- Unable to install in Ultrabooks due to the small sized drive bay
The WD Black² Dual Drive is an extremely innovative drive that can not only bring life back to an aging machine, but also saves on desktop space with external drives and use of ‘the cloud’ for those sensitive to having their info out in the internet abyss. Whilst the Black² Dual Drive does lack that bit of oomph that we have seen from the stand-alone SSD, the concept, execution and performance can excuse this minor drop in performance.